Azar Taps Former CVS Executive to Help Lower Drug Prices

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is tapping a former CVS Caremark executive to lead the agency’s efforts to lower drug prices.

According to HHS, Daniel Best will be Azar’s senior adviser for drug pricing reform. Best was most recently a vice president of industry relations for CVS’s Medicare Part D business. This included the company’s prescription drug plans, Medicare Part D plans and other clients.

In a statement, Azar said Best will lead the agency’s initiatives aimed at lowering drug prices — a top priority for the Trump administration.

President Trump has hit drug companies hard in speeches, once saying they are “getting away with murder.” But advocates say he has not backed up those words with actions proportionate to the problem.

In his budget last month, Trump proposed a range of relatively modest steps, such as capping out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare enrollees and allowing up to five states to join together to negotiate drug prices in Medicaid.

But many of the ideas did not directly target pharmaceutical companies. It’s not clear what initiatives Best will be in charge of at HHS.

In addition to Best, Azar announced that Brett Giroir will serve as a senior adviser for mental health and opioid policy.

Giroir, who is also the assistant secretary for health, will be responsible for coordinating HHS’s efforts across the administration to fight the opioid crisis.

Giroir and Best are two of four hires Azar expects to make in the coming weeks to lead different priority initiatives: combating the opioid crisis, bringing down the high cost of prescription drugs, addressing the cost and availability of health insurance and shifting to a value-based health system.

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